Why Is Katy Perry Being Accused of Swindling the Elderly Out of Real Estate?

new york, new york april 27 katy perry attends the reopening of the landmark at tiffany co 5th avenue on april 27, 2023 in new york city photo by taylor hillgetty images
The Katy PERRY Real Estate Act, ExplainedTaylor Hill
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Katy Perry's real estate history hasn't exactly been smooth sailing. The singer has been wrapped up in several legal battles with elderly homeowners in California, and the conflicts have even inspired a proposed law named the Katy PERRY Act—which not exactly a positive claim to fame. Ahead, take a look at everything we know about the potential law.

What Is the Katy PERRY Act?

The Katy PERRY Act, also referred to as the PERRY Act, "addresses the risks of elder financial abuse, especially as it relates to property and real estate sales and transfers," according to a website created by its supporters. "The Act establishes a 72-hour cool-down period during which either party involved in a contract for conveyance of a personal residence, in which one party is over the age of 75, can rescind the agreement without penalty." The name is an obvious reference to the singer, but PERRY also stands for Protecting Elder Realty for Retirement Years Act.

While the PERRY Act has not gone through any legislative processes—and is an effort supported by Perry's opponents in her current real estate court battle—the proposed act has bipartisan support. Among the signing legislators are state representatives, assemblymen, and senators with the majority from New Mexico and Texas. Others are from Arkansas, California, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Wyoming.

How Did Katy Perry Inspire the Act?

Katy Perry has been involved in several legal battles that the website dedicated to the act points to as examples of "predatory acquisition, unfair dealing, or elder financial fraud." Her most recent high-profile case involves 84-year-old Carl Westcott, who filed a lawsuit to block the sale of his Santa Barbara, California, home to Perry and her fiancé Orlando Bloom. According to court documents, Westcott is alleging that he "lacked the mental capacity to understand the nature and probable consequences of the contract."

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Westcott—who was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease in 2015—purchased the home in May 2020 for $11.25 million with the intention to reside there for the rest of his life. Not long after, he was presented with a proposed contract to sell his home to Perry and Bloom. The contract is dated July 14, 2020, and the offer was for $15 million. Before signing the contract, Westcott underwent a six-hour back surgery on July 10. When he entered the contract, the lawsuit claimed he was suffering from pain and post-surgical delirium from the surgery, "dementia and/or diminished mental cognitive functions" from Huntington’s, and he was under the influence of pain-killing opiates that his physicians instructed him to take. (If the name Westcott is familiar to you, it may be for one of two reasons: Carl is the founder of 1-800-FLOWERS and his daughter, Kameron Westcott, was a star of the now-cancelled Real Housewives of Dallas.)

Apart from the ongoing battle with Westcott, Perry faced another legal challenge with elderly real estate owners a few years prior when a group of nuns sought to block her from buying their California estate, which they intended to sell to someone other than her. According to Billboard, Perry showed interest in the property as early as 2013. Perry won the right to purchase the convent in 2017, but she needed to find a replacement for the convent's House of Prayer before doing so. Perry never secured one and her option to buy the property expired in 2019, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The battle is mainly remembered by a tragic event: During the 2018 trial, one of the nuns collapsed and died in court.

Why Is the Act Being Proposed?

Along with Katy Perry's real estate controversies, the act website links to other examples of contested real estate transactions including one in which an elderly person sold their home to the We Buy Ugly Houses franchise for below market value. The site states that there are "currently no laws to protect senior citizens against real estate transactions that unfairly target older individuals whose mental capacities may be compromised at the time of sale."

The website also points to an increase in online fraud targeting seniors and an uptick in elderly fraud complaints. "The Federal Trade Commission also reported that in 2020, individuals aged 60 and older filed over 93,000 complaints related to fraud, with reported losses exceeding $500 million," the website reads. "Additionally, the rate of cognitive impairment and/or dementia are 15% by age 75 and 20% by age 80."

As for the case that inspired the act, it's a sad story for all concerned. Including the singer, who no doubt, did not have a teenage dream of becoming the face of real-estate swindles involving the elderly.

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